Style Stories

What do I wear when I want to get dressed a notch fancier than jeans?

A notch fancier than jeans but not so fancy that they’re not considered casual anymore.
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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Do you find yourself liking jeans just as much as you always have, but looking for a comparable alternative?

I can’t make out if this is an age thing — if starting to live like an adult (that is, have children) delivers this expectation that I should dress like it and if I’m under the spell of that expectation (not even my own!), or if this is an impasse thing (have I arrived at the impossible — my own version of peak-denim?). Maybe it is much more broadly a post-pandemic thing (Get! Dressed! Because-you-can!). However it is sliced, I keep looking to alternatives for jeans that aren’t fancy pants (fancy pants!) or the same genre of casual and these cords [EMOJI] have been scratching that itch.

I’ll tell you why I think they work:

Brett Warren shot these pix

  • Fabric: They’re corduroy, technically, in a higher wale number (wales = the ridges in the pattern — and the lower the wale, the thicker the cords) and that makes them durable enough to withstand a long sit down (thigh creases aren’t a nuisance and in fact, they’re welcome — more texture!) and also, they’re an easy clean. (I sat in playdough, for example, on Saturday afternoon and rubbed it off with a fingertip and cold water; wouldn’t recommend deliberately kneeling in playdough but they’re basically good as new).
  • Color: An olive shade of utility green, and this color often looks rich on fabrics like velvet or suede. This shade is also akin to khaki, and khakis are basically jeans in that they’re perceived as casual in equal measure and match with basically every color out there. So there you have it. They’re jeans but a little more delicate.
  • Fit: These are a midrise flare leg. But not so flare that the shoes are completely covered, which I’ll get to. A midrise, I find, accommodates more body types than low-rise or high-rise, so it seems like a safe bet if you’re not sure of your fit. Also tucks into shirts pretty easily, and totally fine to fuck with untucks too.
  • Length: Long enough to wear with heels, short enough to wear with flats (as in, not baggy, but not cropped), which seems key with a pair of flare legs that are not so flared your shoe gets completely covered — those are harder to match with coats, I find. (The other good thing about corduroy, btw, is that the fabric is stiff enough to roll up and it look good if you need to shorten the pants but don’t want to Shorten the Pants.)

For the exercise, I paired them with a sweater vest and sequined button-down shirt, which really tugs at the …cords… of impulse dressing — that thing where you dress to accommodate a mood as opposed to, necessarily, a practical code of some kind.

Lately, I have been thinking that I am more attracted to the genre of impulse dressing because it is so emotional.

It comes with a set of trappings (lose sight of the fact that clothes are clothes and you might accidentally mistake the clothes for the feelings and the feelings for your sense of self), but a nice platter of rewards too (most significantly, a jump start if your day finds you on the blue end of motivation).

Garments that fit into the category of impulse dressing tend to be more exciting to look at — a patterned sweater or bright blouse or sequined skirt (!) or rhinestone something or other, and this might be what makes casual pants — be they jeans (easiest), grey wool trousers (tougher sell) or khakis (middle of the road) so alluring to me in the first place.

They’re a choose-your-own-adventure that accommodates some technical code but leaves room to inject the emo part too.

Siedres sequined button down (kind of similar, but also not at all), Frances Valentine vest, Pallas Paris trousers, Chanel boots

Do you ever dress to either accommodate or change your mood, as opposed to appease the practical guidelines of what a situation is asking for? What do you gravitate towards in those instances?

Signing off with some pants market if you’re at the same stoplight:

From left: Bella Freud thick wave corduroys for $390Officine Generale's are $350. The pink pants are from Urban Outfitters for $69 and come in 9 more colors (I’d pair them with loafers), green guys are from Anthropologie, for $130 and the red is really good too. Next to them: Banana Republic velvet pants, styled mostly to perfection for $120Everlane’s wide legs are next door for $88 with & Other Stories at the end, a pair of velvet joggers for $59 (I’d wear them with a turtleneck, collarless jacket with soft shoulders, glitter socks, and kitten heels probably).